Header image: A honey bee feeding. Credit: Jenny Tweedie
As spring begins to take shape, so do our gardens, greenspaces and reserves as dashes of colour appear and they become havens for all creatures great and small. This April, RSPB England’s Becca Smith takes a look at the wonderful world of wildflowers waiting to be discovered, and how you can create a spectacular sea of colour right on your doorstep that benefits nature too.
Image: A wildflower meadow. Credit: Colin Wilkinson
The term “wildflower meadow” might conjure up images of enchanting, vast landscapes of colourful flowers and long grasses, but even on small scale, planting the right flowers and grasses can have a fantastic impact on local wildlife.
Wildflowers benefit a diverse range of invertebrates, such as bees and butterflies, as well as larger creatures such as birds and bats. Sadly though, wildflower meadows, or 'unimproved grasslands', have been in sharp decline since the 1930s, with the UK having lost 99% of this precious habitat.
Our reserves are home to a rich variety of wildflowers and the invertebrates that benefit from them too. Why not discover your nearest wildlife haven here?
Lesser celandine – a precious food source for insects, this plant also has high levels of Vitamin C and so has had medicinal purposes in the past. Look out for lesser celandines growing in damp woodlands or shady bank sides in clusters.
Sweet violet – as the name suggests, sweet violets have a lovely scent that can be used in perfumes. Found in banks and meadows, you’ll find these charming plants nestled very low to the ground.
Primrose – Primroses may flower from December, but April is the best month to see them at their most beautiful. Vital nectar for spring butterflies, you’ll find primroses in a variety of colours in hedge banks, woodlands, or even in your garden.
Forget-me-not – A popular flower which are found in woods and hedgerows, as well as in the wider countryside, these tiny but bright blue flowers are ones not to miss.
Bluebell – perhaps the true unforgettable wildflower, here in the UK we are home to around 50% of the worlds’ bluebells, with spectacular displays in woodlands across the country.
Image: A long lawn sees wildflowers like dandelions provide precious nectar for bees. Credit: Ben Andrew
Even at home, Planting wildflowers such as cornflowers, birds-foot trefoil and field poppies in your garden or window boxes can benefit a range of invertebrates such as bees, butterflies and hoverflies as well as birds and bats this summer. Why not check out our specially tailored wildflower seed packs to get started?
If lazy gardening is more your thing, you’ll be pleased to hear that next month’s Plantlife’s “No-Mow May”, sees lawns grow long to help wildflowers such as ox-eye daisies, white clover and selfheal establish. The nectar produced by flowers like these is estimated to support around 400 bees a day, so your lawn could fast become a hive of activity when left a little more unruly.
What’s more, even if you don’t have a garden, you can get involved in Grow Wild to see what actions you can take to help UK wildflowers or even take part in our Wild Challenge fun wild flower foray with the family while on your daily exercise – what flowers will you see peeking through the pavement cracks and crevices?
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